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Basking Shark

Cetorhinus maximus

Basking Sharks are the second largest Shark, after Whale Sharks, averaging around 26ft in length.

They are usually grayish-brown in color and their jaws are very large, up to 3 feet in width and gill slits that almost encircle their head. They have small teeth relative to their body size and the teeth are hook shaped.

Found worldwide in subarctic to warm-temperate waters. They are coastal-pelagic and can be found around continental shelves and sometimes near brackish waters (higher salt content).

They are filter feeders, with zooplankton making up the majority of their diet with very small fish and some invertebrates. The only other plankton eating sharks are Whale Sharks and Megamouth Sharks.

Basking Sharks will migrate with the seasons following plankton concentrations.

They are slow moving sharks but will breach occasionally jumping entirely out of the water. 

They are completely harmless and pose no threat to humans.

Its liver accounts for 25% of its body weight.

The IUCN Red List have them listed as Endangered. Due to the rapidly decreasing numbers of this species, they are protected in many areas such as: the Atlantic and Gulf Regions in the U.S. as well as the U.K.

They are an important draw to diving/tourism due to their nature and tolerance of divers and boats.

More info can be found via the Florida Museum.

By Martin Prochazkacz -
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By Martin Prochazkacz -
Basking Shark Gallery
By Greg Skomal / NOAA Fisheries Service - Basking Shark (in English). NOAA Fisheries Service. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration., Public Domain,
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Public Domain,